When I was a child, one of my uncles showed me how to ride a bike. He thought it would be a cool idea to test my skills out on the gravel and dirt roads between his house and my grandmother’s house. I can’t say I was good at it, but it was fun after I got the hang of it.
One of the things he told me about bike riding is that you can’t focus on the obstacles. Every little rock or piece of glass in the road isn’t going to puncture your wheels. You have to stay focused on where you’re going, not what you’re trying to avoid.
That same lesson applies to life. To reach your goals, you have to keep your eye on the goal, not on the obstacles in your way. You will be held up and held back if you allow every little rock and every piece of glass to get to you. Many obstacles will come and go without a huge fanfare if we simply look up and look ahead.
Too often, people give too much effort to the problems they may face. They think too long and too hard about what might happen that they never get down the road on their goals. Putting all of one’s time and effort into running away from difficulty is unproductive. It’s not a good focus. Good ideas and more energy doesn’t come from this type of problem-focused mentality.
How often have you seen someone who acts as if a minor setback is the end of the world and it completely impedes their forward progress? Maybe it was betrayal, criticism, failure, or transition that made them throw up their hands and forget about their goals. Whatever the object of your focus is will only get bigger. Some things get so big that after a while, you can’t see beyond them, you feel stuck, and don’t even try to clear them away.
The trick is to give great effort to pursuing good goals. Goals are like fuel. They get you revved up and keep you moving forward. Even when motivation isn’t on your side, you still have vision and passion to put in the effort to do good things with your life.
John Piper said, “Give 10% of your focus in life to avoiding obstacles to productivity and 90% of your focus to fastening on to great goals and pursuing them with all your might.”
Jesus did this when it came time for him to go to the cross. He could have focused on the difficulty; instead, he focused on the productivity. Thomas Edison said he failed at creating the light bulb over ten thousand times, but he kept his eye on the goal and eventually achieved it. Bill Gates failed at his first roadway traffic data business, but he focused on more production until he created Microsoft.
Isn’t it interesting how you almost always find what you’re looking for? It’s been said that you will get the things you focus on. If you focus on the little rocks and pieces of glass in the road, you’re going to constantly be stopped. If you focus on your destination, you will eventually get there.
The goal setting is good. The goal working is great. The goal achieving is glorious.
Getting things done that fulfill your life’s purpose and that make a difference in the world far outweigh any pits in the road. You won’t get it done by focusing on obstacles but by allowing your goals to captivate your deepest attention. Give great effort to pursuing good goals.
Until next time, Vita. Consilio.